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Ashes to Gold: How the 1964 Olympics Transformed Japan and Lessons for 2020 featuring Dan Rather and Tomohiko Taniguchi

December 8, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

$10 – $30

The Tokyo 1964 Olympics marked Japan’s transformation from a defeated pariah nation to a prosperous democracy dedicated to improving the lives of its citizens and contributing to world peace.  That success involved a massive and controversial undertaking that literally transformed the face of Tokyo and the nation and set the country on a path to becoming the second largest economy in the world.
Today Japan faces equally daunting challenges.  As the first modern nation state in history to experience a long-term secular decline in its population, Japan must address unprecedented challenges of rapid aging, shrinking labor force and rising debt.  It must find a way to ensure its security in a region marked by growing uncertainty, changing power balances, and a backlash against globalization.  It must find a way to again transform itself – this time from a post-war manufacturing powerhouse into a post-industrial innovation center.
Can the Olympic Games in 2020 provide the same kind of rallying call for change that they did in 1964?  Can the Abe Government use the Games as both a spur and a stage to drive economic and political reforms at home and security and foreign policy initiatives abroad?  Can the Olympics be the symbol in 2020 that it was in 1964 for a “new Japan” as perceived both by the Japanese themselves and by the people of the Asian region and the world?
The Japan Society of Northern California is proud to present a program featuring news icon Dan Rather to explore how Japan held what many have called the most successful Olympics ever and how it can use the 2020 Games to address the critical issues it faces today.   Mr. Rather will discuss a documentary he is producing, Ashes to Gold, that will look at the remarkable accomplishments of 1964.  Well-known Japanese commentator and speechwriter for Prime Minister Abe, Professor Tomohiko Taniguchi, will address on how Japan is addressing the challenges it faces in the coming four years.  That will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Mr. Rather to explore these issues in depth.
An important part of that story is the role played by OIC Chairman Avery Brundage who helped steer the games to a war-torn, battered Tokyo.  Fittingly, the December 8 program will be held at the Koret Auditorium of the de Young Museum which housed the original Brundage Asian Art collection which later became the Asian Art Museum, now located near City Hall.    The program will be followed by a networking reception for the audience.

Dan Rather
With a famed and storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather became one of the dan-ratherworld’s best-known journalists. He helped pioneer the very idea that television could be a place for news, and then kept that spirit of innovation alive by constantly pushing the boundaries of what video storytelling could accomplish. Along the way, his work ethic, nose for investigative reporting, and calmness and composure in moments of triumph and tragedy made him a respected voice that millions of people have trusted to make sense of a complicated world.
Rather’s resume reads like a history book. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and personally covered almost every important dateline of the last 60 years. From his first big assignment at a local news station covering Hurricane Carla, to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rather was there reporting the news to America and the world. On the scene in Dallas, he was key in breaking the news of President John F. Kennedy’s death, and uncovered key developments as a White House correspondent during the widespread criminal conspiracy known as Watergate. He was outside Martin Luther King, Junior’s jail cell in Birmingham and at the anchor desk for countless hours on 9/11 and the days that followed. He reported from the Berlin Wall when it fell, spent a year covering the jungle combat zones of Vietnam, and was forced off the air at Tienanmen Square when the Chinese government’s crackdown began. And yet Rather’s range was such that in addition to covering world changing events, he quickly gained a reputation as a gifted, versatile, and nuanced storyteller whose reports rung with empathy and even humor when warranted.
Rather got his start in print, then moved into radio and local television news, before joining CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1981 he assumed the position of anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, a post he held for 24 years. His reporting was featured across the network. It helped turn 60 Minutes into an institution, launched 48 Hours as an innovative fly-on-the-wall news magazine program, and shaped countless specials and documentaries. Upon leaving CBS, Rather returned to the in-depth reporting he always loved by creating the Emmy Award winning prime-time news magazine and documentary program, Dan Rather Reports on the cable network HDNet. Now, building upon that foundation, he is president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company he founded that specializes in high-quality non-fiction content across a range of traditional and digital distribution channels.
While Rather has won all of the most prestigious journalism awards (many times over) and has reported from the majority of nations on earth, he considers himself first and foremost a Texan. He is a proud native son of Wharton and Houston, and he graduated from what is now Sam Houston State University. Rather’s unique Texas phrases have become a hallmark of his winsome and approachable style to reporting and storytelling.

Dr. Tomohiko Taniguchi
Professor, Keio University Graduate School of System Design and dr-taniguchiManagement (SDM), reading international political economy and Japanese diplomacy. He is also Special Adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet.
Between February 2013 and March 2014 he was Councillor, Prime Minister’s Office. Then and now his responsibilities have included writing foreign-policy speeches for PM Abe.
After spending 20 years with Nikkei Business, a weekly magazine, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 as Deputy Press Secretary and Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy. Until he left the ministry three years later he addressed the English speaking press and wrote speeches for then Foreign Minister Taro Aso and other national leaders including then PM Shinzo Abe.
While with the magazine he spent a stint in London, 1997-2000, as the magazine’s correspondent. In 1999 the Foreign Press Association in London elected him President, the first from “the East of Suez.” He spent sabbaticals at Princeton University as a Fulbright Visiting Fellow, at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, and at the Brookings Institution as a CNAPS Fellow.
For five years till 2013 he was Executive Adviser to the then Chairman of the Central Japan Railway Company, Yoshiyuki Kasai, while holding visiting professorships at Keio SDM and Meiji University School of Global Japanese Studies.
LL.B. from the University of Tokyo, PhD. in national security from Takushoku University, he has authored or co-authored more than 10 books on international affairs. He has appeared live more than 250 times on BBC, Al-Jazeera English, CNN, CNA, and other global news networks.

James Higa
James Higa has a long and storied career in Silicon Valley. He reported directly to Steve Jobs and worked alongside him at Apple for nearly three decades to change the face of technology and entire consumer industries as we know it. Whether it was negotiating the landmark agreements with the major record labels to launch the iTunes Music Store, helping to develop iconic products like the Macintosh personal computer and the iPhone, or ushering in the online revolution in education with iTunes University, he has always worked to marry technology with the liberal arts to transform our world.
Now as Executive Director of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, known for it’s grassroots philanthropy and 48 hour grant cycle, he aspires to make a dent in the universe and to close the growing Inequality Gap through radical collaboration, people, and communities.
James still has one foot in technology as a Mentor in Residence at the venture capital firm, Index Ventures, whose investments include Dropbox, Etsy, Facebook, and Skype. He actively mentors startup founders and their companies across the globe “peak around corner” and think strategically about their products, services, operations, execution, marketing, international expansion, and implementing social impact programs.
James attended Stanford University and received his AB ’81 in Political Science. He serves on the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources Advisory Council and Stanford Distinguished Career Institute Board. He is a former member of the SAA Alumni Executive Board, Haas Center for Public Service National Advisory Board, Stanford Admissions Office Advisory Board, extended faculty member of the Stanford d.school, and arbitrator for the International Chamber of Commerce.
His deep connections to Japan include on the ground relief efforts during the 1995 Kobe and 2011 Tohoku disasters, the US Japan Council & TOMODACHI initiatives, the launching of Apple Japan and NeXT Japan, and serving as advisor to UNIQLO and Lawson’s Convenience Store.

Steven Vogel
screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-53-30-amSteven K. Vogel is the Il Han New Professor of Asian Studies and a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the political economy of the advanced industrialized nations, especially Japan.
Vogel is the author of Japan Remodeled: How Government and Industry Are Reforming Japanese Capitalism (Cornell, 2006) and co-editor (with Naazneen Barma) of The Political Economy Reader: Markets as Institutions (Routledge, 2008). His earlier book, Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Industrial Countries  (Cornell, 1996), won the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize. He also edited his mother’s book, Suzanne Hall Vogel, The Japanese Family in Transition: From the Professional Housewife Ideal to the Dilemmas of Choice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), and a volume on U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World (Brookings, 2002). 
Vogel is currently working on a book, tentatively entitled Marketcraft, that argues that markets need rules not simply to protect people and the environment from collateral damage but to function effectively in the first place. It explores why viewing markets as institutions that are deeply embedded in law, regulations, practices and norms is essential to understanding recent developments in advanced economies such as the United States and Japan.
Vogel won the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Excellence Award in 2002, and the UC Berkeley Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Student Instructors in 2005.  He has been a columnist for Newsweek-Japan and the Asahi Shimbun, and he has written extensively for the popular press.  He has worked as a reporter for the Japan Times in Tokyo and as a freelance journalist in France. He has taught previously at the University of California, Irvine and Harvard University. He has a B.A. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.


  • 6:00pm-6:30pm Registration
  • 6:30pm-8:00pm Program
  • 8:00pm-9:00pm Reception

Parking is available in the de Young Museum’s  “Music Concourse Garage” in the basement of the Museum until 11:00PM at a flat rate of $17 from 5:30PM. The Museum can be accessed directly from the garage.
For those coming from the street level, please enter by the Tower entrance on the North East side of the de Young Museum.  Please come by 6:00 as the program will start promptly at 6:15.

Purchase Tickets:



December 8, 2016
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
$10 – $30


Japan Society of Northern California
View Organizer Website


Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco , CA 94118 United States
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